Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) Phrases and Terminology

Sometimes the GAA might be a bit confusing for beginnners (and some long term players as well!) so we thought it might be handy to have a list of the most used GAA phrases and terminologiesto help everyone along and keep them up to speed on the game.  Some of them are not for the faint of hearted.

Essential Terms for players, managers, coaches, Mums, Dads, general relatives and family and of course spectators of the GAA

Bollix: – The Referee

Mighty :- Very good

Hames :- A right shite, e.g. ‘He made a hames of that chance’

Timber: – Intimidation of a hurling opponent, e.g. ‘Show him some timber’

Lamp :- A good  thump, e.g. ‘I swung for the sliotar (goal), missed by 3 feet and lamped the full back’

A Crowd :- A gathering of  people who watch a match and hope for random acts of violence, e.g. Waterford supporters

Schkelp: – To remove living tissue in the absence of surgical procedures,e.g. ‘That shite from Tipperary took a schkelp outta me leg’

Hatchet Man :- Mountainy type, uses hunter/gatherer instincts

Bullin’: – Angry, e.g. ‘The centre half was bullin’ after I lamped him’

Bull Thick: – Very angry, e.g. ‘The centre half was bull thick after I Iamped him again’

Joult: – A push, e.g. ‘I  gave him a joult and he has to wear a neck brace for 2 weeks’

The Comm-A-Teee: – Local GAA bullshitters in general

Bushted :- An undefined soreness, e.g. ‘Jayz me arm is bushted’

The Bomber :-  Popular name for a fat hairy GAA player who shouts and sings alot.

A Hang Sangwidge :- Consumed with ‘tay’ on the sides of roads after matches in Pairc Ui Chaoimh or Thurles, usually contains half  a pound of butter

Rake: – A great amount of  anything, usually pints of Guinness the night before an important match

Indanamajaysus (in-da-nama-Jaysus): – What was that for referee?

Ya Bollix Ya :- Corner back’s formal recognition of a score by his opponent

Leh-It-In-Ta-Fuck-Wud-Ya :- Full forwards appeal to a midfielder for a more timely delivery of the pass

Mullocker: – Untidy or awkward player released for matches

Burst The Bollix :- Instructions from the sideline to tackle your man

Row :- Disagreement  involving four or more players

Shamozzle: – Disagreement involving both teams, including goalies, substitutes and  supporters jumping fences

All-Hell-Broke-Loose :- A massive row that continues out in the parking area or dressing room areas, usually resolved by the Gardai (Police) … very popular in Wicklow

Big thanks to Seamus Whooley who runs a golf in Spain travel agency for the cool list.

Sidelines and Kickouts in the GAA

What happens when some edjit kicks the ball outta play or the goalie has to get up of his arse and do something, its all covered here.

Sidelines and Kickouts

A player who touches the ball last before it crosses out of play is penalised by possession returning to the other team and a free awarded depending on where the ball leaves the field of play. If the ball crosses the sideline, a sideline is taken. This free may be taken in a similar fashion to any other free awarded, and is taken from where the ball left the field of play.


If an attacking player is the last to touch the ball before it crosses the end line, a kick out/puckout is awarded to the defending team. Kick outs, in Gaelic football, are taken from the ground. Puckouts, in hurling, are where the goalkeeper has a free strike of the ball from his goal area. Where they are taken depends on where they crossed the end line:

If the ball crosses the end line but does not go between the defenders’ goalposts, a wide ball is declared and the free kick is taken from the 6 yard line (i.e. the front of the small parallelogram).

In football, if the ball crosses the end line, and goes between the defenders’ goalposts, either above or below the crossbar, a score is given to the attacking team and the kickout is taken from the 21-yard line.

As explained earlier, if a defender plays the ball over his own end line, a ’45’ / ’65’ is awarded to the attacking team.

Scoring and Goals the GAA Scoring System

Yep, the scoring in GAA is as odd as hell, but it makes sense. I swear to god it does.


In Gaelic football and hurling there are two types of score, a goal or a point.

A point is scored by playing the ball over your opponents’ end line, between their goalposts, and over the crossbar.
Heres some examples:

A goal is scored by playing the ball over your opponents’ end line, between the goalposts, and under the crossbar.

A goal is worth three points.


gaa-goalPlayers may score from either the hand or the foot in football, or the hurl and foot in hurling. A goal cannot be scored using the hand pass method, although points can be scored this way.

A goal scored by hand will count if the referee deems it not to have been by the hand pass method e.g. if a player is in possession of the ball, drops it, and punches the ball into the goal this will count.

A set of goals in Gaelic football/hurling are similar to those of rugby. The two vertical posts (goalposts) are placed 14 yards apart, with a horizontal bar (crossbar) between them, 8 feet from the ground.

If a defender plays the ball through his own goalposts, whether by foot or by hand, the appropriate score is awarded to the attacking team. A defending player may score an own goal with a hand pass.

Some cracking goals here:

and incase you are still wondering, heres a great round up of both goals and points!

Frees and Penalties in GAA Football

What happens when the ball some muppet tries to take the legs of ya or even more idiotically, does it in the box…

Frees & Penalties

If a foul is committed outside the fourteen-yard line, the free is to be taken by a player on the attacking side, from the ground (in Gaelic football the free may now be taken from the hands. If he is taking the free kick from the hand, he is not allowed bounce the ball, throw it from hand-to-hand, etc., before the free is taken).

gaa-free-kickFor any foul committed inside the 14-yard line, but outside the large parallelogram, are brought out to the 14-yard line, perpendicular to the end line. The free may be taken from the ground or hand, and the same rules apply to the free taker if the free is being taken from the hand.

If a personal foul to an attacking player is committed within his opponents’ large parallelogram, a penalty to the attacking team is awarded. Penalties are one-on-one frees taken from the 14 yard line, directly in front of the centre of goal. In Gaelic football only the defending goalkeeper may stand in the goal, but in hurling the goalkeeper and two other players may line the goal.

All players (except the player taking the penalty and those on the line) must be 14 yards away from the ball and outside the 14-yard line, and may not encroach on these boundaries until the ball has been played. Recently, new markings to the pitch showing these boundaries have been introduced.

If a technical foul is committed by a defending player within his own large rectangle, but outside the small parallelogram, a 14-yard free is awarded to the attacking team.

If a technical foul is committed by a defending player inside his own small parallelogram, a penalty is awarded to the attacking team.

A special free called a ’45’, in football, and ’65’ in hurling, is awarded to an attacking team if a defender plays the ball last before it crosses the defenders’ end line. This free is so called because it is taken from the defenders’ 45/65 metre line. This free must be taken from the ground. It is taken perpendicular to where the ball crossed the line.

Personal Fouls in GAA Football

All about contact or personal Fouls in GAA.


A defending player may try to dispossess an attacking player by one of two methods:-

gaa-foulTackling ‘shoulder-to-shoulder’ i.e. making fair contact with his shoulder to the other player’s shoulder to try and unbalance him. The defender may not use his hip or elbow in the tackle, and one foot has to be on the ground during the whole tackling procedure.
Irish football foul.

A player may use the shoulder to push a player away from the ball whilst both of them are chasing a ‘fifty-fifty’ ball i.e. no team is in proper possession of the ball.

In Gaelic football he may attempt to knock the ball from the attacker’s hands with the open palm. Only one hand can be used, and the defender cannot try to pull it from the attacker, he must knock it cleanly from his possession.

If either of these rules is breached, the referee awards a free to the attacking player. Consistent personal fouling by a player may warrant a booking from the referee, and if he is booked a second time, he must leave the field of play, and suffer an immediate two week suspension, which may be lengthened by the appropriate disciplinary board.


No player may pull the jersey of an opposing player during the game, weather it is whilst running for the ball, tackling an attacking player, or during quiet periods of play. Consistent pulling of an opposing player’s jersey may warrant a booking, and if the foul is committed at a later time and noted by the referee, this mandates a sending off.


A free is awarded if one player pushes an opposing player, whilst chasing him, tackling him, or if one player is in front of another for a catch and the payer behind pushes his opponent to get a better chance of catching the ball.


If a player strikes any other player on the pitch, with either the fist of the boot, weather an opponent or on the same team, he is to be immediately put off. A minimum two-week suspension is imposed, and this may be extended by the appropriate disciplinary board.

Dangerous play: If the referee deems a player to be a danger to other players, he has the right to caution the player about his conduct. If this conduct is not changed, the referee may book the player. If again this makes no difference, the referee has the right to put the player off. A two-week suspension is imposed upon the player.

Technical Fouls in GAA Football

When you have the ball you can also foul by breaking rules such as travelling or doing to bounces in series. I know, sounds confusing but you will get it eventually!

Technical Fouls

This section deals with fouls ‘against the ball’, i.e. fouls committed by a player, which do not infringe on another player.

gaa-technical-foulPlayers may not lift the ball directly from the ground. The toe or the hurl may be used to lift the ball from the ground, into the hands. If a player illegally lifts the ball from the ground, the opposing team regains possession, and a free is taken from the point where the foul occurred.

When in possession of the ball, a player may take no more than four steps while holding the ball. He may however, start on a ‘solo-run’, dropping the ball from hand to foot, and playing it back to the hand ‘toe-tap’ in football, or soloing on the hurley in hurling. If a player takes more than four steps with the ball in his hand, a free to the opposing team is awarded.

A player may pass the ball using either the hand (‘hand pass’) or by kicking the ball to a team mate (‘foot pass’), or in hurling by striking the ball with the hurl. A legal ‘hand pass’ is committed by a player who makes it apparent to the referee that a clean striking action has occurred (to clearly show that the ball was not thrown).

If an attacking player is within his opponents small parallelogram before the ball enters, it is deemed a ‘square ball’, and a free out to the defending team. However, if the ball enters before him, or enters, is cleared and played back into the small parallelogram before he has time to exit, a foul is not called.

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